What is 31 Days?
It’s that time of year again! Starting October 1st, I’ll be a participant in The Nester’s 31 days Writing Challenge. The purpose is to exercise the writing muscles, dig deeper into topics that you want to explore and to practice honing in on your writing styles. Last year my topic was: 31 days to an Organized Life & Business. I wrote about taking some of my own advice and taking you along on my journey to a life reset. I shared some tips on everything from bookkeeping, shopping, managing kids, intentional parenting, work from home mom syndrome, work/life balance, spiritual reset and more. Not because I am the expert in these fields, but because they have worked for me in the past, and I so badly needed them in my own life and often we neglect ourselves while we are busy working with others.
This year we have had some interesting things that keep pointing us back to the heartbeat of my purpose in all of my business, ministry, artistic and personal endeavors: FAMILY. So when thinking about a topic to write about for an entire month, I decided to keep it simple and just write letters to my own family. It’s a activity I ask for my portrait clients to try in the Story of Family Experience, and even emphasize with my coaching and consulting clients when outlining their goals for prioritizing a business life that gets them home in time for dinner with their family. But as we often joke about the plumber’s pipes always being leaky, I fall short of dedicating enough intentional time to writing letters to my own family. And so here we are.
If you are a writer, I invite you to join us in the challenge here: Write 31 Days
You can follow along on my blog here with this 31 Days Project 2015.
Dear Tween Daughter,
Where do I start? How do I best reach the mature, smart, loving, and wonderful person that is in there, fighting to breakthrough this season of her life?
I know that she struggles with comparison with her friends, and makes impulsive decisions. I know she struggles with image because so much is changing right now and at times it can be overwhelming. I know she struggles with wanting be noticed, so she struggles with her behavior so that she can be sure we are paying attention to her.
This letter is to tell you… I see you. We see you. We love you, so SO much, and we are so proud of you and the person you are becoming. We know who you really are and we already see the finished version of you in your adulthood showing us glimpses here and there. We can’t wait for you to see it too, so please know that it is there, and it will be amazing. You will love that version of your life when you are past these struggles that you face now and you can simply step into the amazing life that God is preparing for you.
Yes, typical adolescent struggles. What you feel now? Like a failure? Like you can’t do anything right? Like there is something wrong and you can’t control it? Like you are upset and you don’t know why? That you don’t know who your real friends are? That you feel life is unfair or that your brother is treated better than you? That your parents don’t appreciate you? That school is too hard and your friends are prettier, have better clothes, toys, electronics, friends, homes, backpacks, hair, nail polish?
All of this is normal. 100%. And I promise you, these are things that all of your friends are feeling too. Even though they may not talk about it openly, I can guarantee you that they are feeling some of it at least.
I know this, because I was also one of these girls.
And in my struggle to find myself and grow up like a “normal” girl, my behaviors were very similar to yours. And in my parenting prayers, I prayed specifically that I could remember those days vividly so that I could relate to and have an understanding of what you are going through.
Does this mean that you won’t ever get in trouble because I know how you feel and I sympathize? That you won’t be disciplined because I know what you are dealing with is hard? Sadly, no. It means that your Dad and I are 100% committed to parenting on all levels, but more importantly teaching you right from wrong because I can relate and I know what to expect. It means that in this transition from 12 – 20 years old will be just as hard for us as it is for you. Because all I want to do is hold you and love on you and take you out for ice cream and watch movies with you and do each other’s hair. But when you make mistakes, I do need to correct you and give you consequences for your actions. Sometimes that means not doing fun things because you have to write an essay on “Why it’s important to ask permission” (in cursive, because why not, since they pulled that program from school anyway).
I am not telling you this so that you can feel guilty about your mistakes or actions. I am telling you this because I don’t want you to think for a second that I would rather send you to your room to write essays instead of spending time with you. Because I would rather spend time with you. ALWAYS. These are the moments that are so precious to me, and that I cherish so much with you.
God has given me the gift of a raising a daughter. To show you the ways that you should go. In life, in school, with your friends, in your relationship with Christ, in your relationship with your brother, with your family, in your schoolwork, in your activities, and in your talents. To show you how to walk this life for the glory of God. To use the time He has given you on this earth wisely and to show you how to love others around you.
It is my job as your Mom to not only love you unconditionally, but to teach you these things. Both by my example, and my actions and instruction.
I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes too. I make bad decisions. When I learn of my mistakes I try to do whatever I can to make it right. To apologize to people I may have hurt, to correct the damages I may have caused. This is part of the learning and growing process for all of us. Not just youth. This is not what failure looks like. Failure comes when we stop apologizing or if we stop trying to do what is right. I will always be an imperfect work in progress, and even though I was once a sinner, I have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
And so have you. Amen!
I believe in you. I trust you. I am proud of you. I love you. And… I LIKE YOU. I really, really like who you are. I like your tastes in music, I like your sense of fashion, I like listening to you sing and play the flute and write stories. I really enjoy your personality and think you are a fun, smart, and wonderful young lady.
I love your heart. You inspire me in ways you may never fully understand. I love the way you care for your brother when he needs his big sister without hesitation. I love the way you care for your animals and treat them kindly. I love the way you go out of your way to show acts of kindness for people. Like making my bed as a surprise while I’m in the shower, or decorating for someone’s birthday with signs and streamers. You inspire me to go out of my way for others more often. You inspire me to show random acts of kindness through service as well. I love the way you serve others intentionally just to bless them.
I fear that in the years to come through this season, we may have many more times where our communication isn’t as civil as this letter. Where the struggles you face for the day come rearing out in the hurried minutes before we leave in the morning, and the mom in the house has to call you out on it in not the best ways possible. The exchange of words may not always be pretty, and I’m afraid that if that happens too often you will be left feeling negative things from me that would totally be untrue. Because how I feel about you, even in those hurried moments, are in this letter, and not in the frustration you may feel from me in those moments.
My darling daughter…. I need to warn you as a fellow girl who has been where you are now… I have seen the other side of this whole “growing up” thing, and it will probably get worse before it’s all over. There will be days where you might feel like the sky is falling down on you, that no one understands you, not even me, that life is so unfair, that everybody is against you and you are all alone, that you have no idea what you are doing right or wrong, or what your goals are, or what is expected of you and it might all be so overwhelming that locking yourself in your room for days may seem like the only answer. When you feel like that, please know, that I will still feel the same about you, and everything in this letter will still be in my heart. And no matter what I will still be loving you unconditionally.
Eventually that fog will lift and you too will be able to see the glimpses of adulthood that awaits you. Rest assured that when you do reach the other side of this adventure called “adolescence” forgiveness has already been given to you, and I ask that you be prepared to offer it to me as well. As I can relate to you having been an adolescent girl myself, I have never been the mother of one, so this is all new for me. I hope that I can do a good job for you. I pray that God gives me the wisdom, strength, patience and perseverance to be the example that you need me to be. That in my imperfections and weaknesses, you will see more of Him and less of me. That grace will abound and forgiveness will be freely flowing knowing that my heart has the best of intentions and that my efforts will be 100% committed to this role of motherhood. Because you deserve the best and you deserve a mother that will stop at nothing to do the best job for you.
I pray that I live out this letter by my actions. On days that you don’t feel that to be true, please keep this letter in a safe place and re-read it when you need to be reminded of where my heart truly is at all times. My apologies in advance on how many times you actually need to do that.
I love you. To the moon and back times infinity.
Always rooting for us,
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Angelsea Urban is a entrepreneur and photographer helping families to nourish their homes, relationships and businesses through meaningful portrait photography, business consulting and management for entrepreneurs, teaching practical stewardship and home management systems, and creating simple products and tools that maximize the quality of our lives. Her unique photography work focuses on Redefining the Family Portrait Experience by telling the story of family through personalized foundations while creating a space to strengthen family bonds throughout the experience. As a certified tax professional and seasoned business consultant, Angelsea has helped the careers of photographers, restaurateurs, musicians and general small business owners through teaching, workshops, coaching, and hands on consulting. She serves in several ministries and is a Board Member and the Director of Operations for Starve Poverty International. She has photographed for families, brides, Bravo TV, NFL Films, and more and has been published in multiple blogs and magazine print for her work in photography and in strategic business management. Angelsea teaches and photographs throughout the United States, and resides with her husband of 17 years, their two children, and their barely 3 pound Yorkie near Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
To book your session with Angelsea Urban, please visit www.angelseaurban.com
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